33 Surprising Benefits of Tea

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

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Tea is appreciated for its good taste and soothing qualities, but innumerable studies have shown its great medicinal value. The health benefits of tea include detoxifying body, weight loss, boosting immunity and mental alertness, preventing heart diseases and arthritis, managing diabetes, and delaying the aging process. It also helps prevent hair loss, fight fatigue, depression, and treat dental issues. Many types of tea have also been linked to lower risks of cancer.

What is Tea?

Tea is an aromatic beverage prepared using the leaves of tea plant scientifically known as Camellia sinensis. It is usually prepared by pouring hot or warm water over the tea leaves. Tea is graded on the basis of flavor and taste, which mainly comes from an alkaloid called tannin. It is also graded on the basis of the size of the leaves, cut, grains, and a few other factors that determine its price on the market. The major types of tea are white tea, green tea, oolong tea, yellow tea, and black tea. The difference between them is the degree to which the leaf is oxidized or fermented.

It is believed that the Chinese were the first to use it as a beverage and discover its medicinal values. They considered it as a tonic that could stop aging, promote youth and vitality, and ensuring a long life, which is why only the noble descendants were allowed to drink it and the beverage was kept secret for a long time. After it was introduced to the world, it became an important part of the culture in many countries, played a major role in ceremonies, caused the formation of trade routes, and even started revolutions!

Nutrition Facts

Beverages, tea, instant, unsweetened, prepared with water
Serving Size :
Water [g]99.62
Energy [kcal]1
Protein [g]0.06
Total lipid (fat) [g]0
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]0.17
Fiber, total dietary [g]0
Sugars, total [g]0.02
Calcium, Ca [mg]3
Iron, Fe [mg]0.01
Magnesium, Mg [mg]2
Phosphorus, P [mg]1
Potassium, K [mg]18
Sodium, Na [mg]4
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.01
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]0
Thiamin [mg]0
Riboflavin [mg]0
Niacin [mg]0.03
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0
Folate, DFE [µg]0
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]0
Vitamin A, IU [IU]0
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]11
Sources include : USDA

Tea Nutrition

Tea is a low-calorie beverage, with only 2 calories per serving with no carbohydrate, protein, or fat. Many of the health benefits of tea are due to flavonoids which act as antioxidants. The most important flavonoids are catechins, specifically epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). It also contains rich phytochemicals called methylxanthines like theophylline, caffeine, and theobromine, which boost metabolism and cause fat burning.

Health Benefits of Tea

Tea has lesser caffeine and it helps protect your bones and relieves depression. It also boosts the immune system and aids in weight loss. Let’s discuss all the benefits in detail.

Antioxidant Properties

The antioxidants in tea can prevent free radicals (oxidants) from damaging the metabolic, circulatory, respiratory, and nervous systems through oxidation. Green or white tea, when supplemented with lemon/lime juice is supposed to be more beneficial in this regard.

Anti-aging Effect

The polyphenols in tea boost cell turnover, which reverses signs of skin aging like wrinkles, loss of moisture, photoaging, and roughness. It can also significantly slow down the aging process to help delay the loss of vision, macular degeneration, loosening of muscles, and other conditions induced by aging.

A cup of hot Yerba Buena tea on a wooden table

May Have Anticancer Potential

The five most known and consumed types of teas like green tea, black tea, oolong tea, white tea, and pu’erh tea play various roles when it comes to their cancer-preventive properties.

According to a 2015 research, black tea is found to have the ability to induce apoptosis in the human colon cancer cell lines.

Green tea, which is kind of a substitute to water for so many of us who are battling with unwanted weight, is researched on for its benefits and Japanese universities have recently found that the ECGC in it helps in cancer prevention.

A 2018 study has focussed on the cancer-preventive properties of white tea which may be helpful in formulating novel anticancer therapeutics.

It may not sound normal but as per very recent studies, pu’erh tea has the ability to stifle the cell proliferation process.

Out of 132 studies, 118 studies show a positive correlation between lower chances of cancer and drinking tea. Many studies have proved that tea is rich in polyphenols such as catechins and flavonoids. These polyphenols have antioxidant properties and are effective in preventing the growth of tumors and cancers, particularly of the liver, pancreas, intestines, prostate, brain, kidneys, uterus, breasts, and lungs. The alkaloids like tannin and caffeine also help in inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells.

Relieves Depression

The recent research draws a link between the consumption of tea and the risk of depression. It was observed that those who consumed three cups daily were far less likely to suffer from depression.

Boosts Mental Alertness

Tea has polyphenols and caffeine content that helps stimulate the brain and improve focus. An amino acid called L-theanine present in it also increases the alertness of the brain.

Relieves Fatigue

Tea is a great energizer and the alkaloids, tannin, and caffeine present in it are very fast-acting and efficient natural stimulants. Drinking it gives immediate relief from fatigue.

Improves Cognitive Function

Tea aids in relieving symptoms of various neurogenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

Relieves Stress

Tea is a stress reliever, gives temporary relief from nervous disorders and induces a good, healthy feeling in the body and mind.

Boosts Immune System

The antioxidants present in tea help strengthen the immune system. Alkaloids like tannin and caffeine are powerful disinfectants and have high antimicrobial, antiviral, and germicidal properties. That is why the beverage helps in relieving fever and preventing infections.

Note: All alkaloids (tannin, caffeine, nicotine, strychnine, etc.) are actually poisons, either mild or harsh, for living cells. If consumed in a concentrated form or in high doses, they can be fatal for humans. However, when consumed in very low dosages, they kill only the germs.

Lower Caffeine Levels

The lower levels of caffeine in tea compared to coffee can help you feel more energetic without the jitters.

Improves Digestion

The tannins present in tea act as digestive aids. The catechins can kill bacteria in the gut; reduce the risk of issues in the digestive tract (colon and rectum), and excess gas.

Weight Loss

Studies have shown that those who regularly drank hot tea had slimmer waists and lower body mass index (BMI) than those who did not. Scientists attribute the weight loss effect to the fact that drinking this beverage regularly can lower the risk of metabolic syndrome and help you keep your weight in check. Drinking a hot brew also reduces the effect of the stress hormone, cortisol, which could contribute to belly fat.

Diabetes Management

Several studies found that this beverage reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Further studies are required to understand the specific effects of various types of tea.

Lowers Blood Sugar

Tea stimulates the metabolism, which results in faster breaking down of sugar and lowering of its level in the blood. This way, it releases energy and also helps diabetics manage their blood sugar levels.

Prevents Heart Disease

Those who consumed at least three cups a day showed a reduction in the risk of various cardiovascular diseases like coronary heart disease, cardiac death, and stroke.

Lowers Cholesterol

Studies show that drinking tea coupled with a low-fat diet can decrease the levels of LDL cholesterol.

Reduces Risk of Arthritis

Polyphenols in tea can reduce inflammation, and make it less likely for regular drinkers to develop rheumatoid arthritis.

Improves Eye Health

The flavonoids in the tea protect against eye disease like cataracts, macular degeneration, and certain types of glaucoma. The flavonoid gallocatechin forms a protective layer on the retina to shield it from UV rays.

Strengthens Bones

The polyphenols in tea can boost the bone mineral density and make them stronger.

Prevents Blood Clots

Green tea catechins have been found to be particularly helpful in inhibiting the production of free radicals that line that arteries, and in preventing the formation of blood clots.

Fights the Flu

A study demonstrated that those who gargled with tea solution twice daily had a lower risk of contracting flu virus than those who didn’t.

Prevents Cold and Cough

Tea helps prevent symptoms of the common cold like a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, and sore throat. It also warms and comforts the body during cold seasons. The best part is that the effects are almost immediate.

Prevents Kidney Stones

Drinking tea also helps prevent the formation of kidney stones. Research indicates that the phenols in tea bonds to the calcium oxalate in kidney stones and reduces their tendency to clump together into large, painful stones.

Prevents Iron Damage

Tannins in tea can regulate the absorption of iron in the body to help patients with iron disorders like hemochromatosis.

UV Protection

Tea acts as a natural sunscreen by protecting us from the damaging effects of UV rays.

Protects Your Smile

Tea can help combat two types of bacteria: Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus, which are associated with tooth decay.

Oral Health

Tannin in tea is an alkaloid and has strong astringent properties. The astringent action fastens the gums firmly onto the teeth, preventing them from loosening and falling out. If taken without sugar, it neutralizes excess acids in the mouth and destroys germs.

Removes Bad Breath

A study has suggested that the polyphenols in tea can help to curb the bacteria that cause bad breath.

Tones Muscles

The astringent properties of tea can even tone up the skin and muscles to give you a younger look.

Skin Care

The catechin content in tea can also keep your skin acne-free. It also protects skin against harmful effects of UV rays.

Hair Care

Tannin prevents hair loss and strengthens hair roots if applied externally. Therefore, many people wash their hair with black tea.

Uses of Tea

There are many ways to use tea to benefit your beauty, home, and garden:

  • Soothe tired eyes: Place wet green tea bags over your eyes to reduce puffiness and dark circles.
  • Darken grey hair: Brew a strong pot of black tea with herbs for hair like rosemary and sage. Use this as a final wash for your hair after you shampoo to enhance color and to darken grey hair.
  • Homemade foot soak: Relax your tired feet into a tea bath, which helps to deodorize them and cure fungal infections.
  • Cleaning solution: Wipe your floors and mirrors with a cloth dipped in tea for a perfect shine.
  • Fertilize plants: Pour a few cups of strong brew into your compost heap to enrich it.

Side Effects of Tea

While most research on tea is positive, like with any other addition to your diet, don’t consume it in excessive amounts. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Addictive quality: This ancient beverage is addictive and makes you habituated to the external stimulant. Therefore, in absence of it, you may feel weak and worn out as your own energy level drops down below normal and you will eventually want more.
  • Organ damage: The alkaloids, tannin, and caffeine in tea can have harmful effects in the long run and can even damage the liver and lungs if excessively consumed. This harmful effect can be minimized by adding lemon/lime juice or milk in your tea.
  • Appetite-suppressant: It also kills the appetite.
  • Interferes with sleep: If taken in excess or before sleep, it can cause severe sleeplessness and resultant headaches.
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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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